November 11, 2013

High school notebook: Scots, Trojans took advantage of bye week

Bonny Eagle and Thornton Academy looked strong in their football playoff openers after an extra week of practice.

From Staff Reports

When the Maine Principals’ Association reclassified football into four classes, the schools in Class A settled on a playoff format that provided a bye week for the teams that finished first and second.

FOOTBALL REGIONAL FINALS

WESTERN CLASS A: Thornton Academy (7-2) at Bonny Eagle (8-1), 7 p.m. Friday

EASTERN CLASS A: Portland (8-1) at Cheverus (9-0), 12:30 p.m. Saturday

WESTERN CLASS B: Marshwood (8-2) at Kennebunk (9-0), 12:30 p.m. Saturday

EASTERN CLASS B: Cony (7-2) at Brunswick (7-2), 7 p.m. Friday

That bye week proved very beneficial to the teams that finished at the top in Western Class A: Bonny Eagle and Thornton Academy.

The top-seeded Scots shut out potent Scarborough 27-0 Friday night, holding the Red Storm to 170 yards. On Saturday, second-seeded Thornton held Sanford to 141 yards in a 35-6 victory.

Beyond helping those teams get a little healthier – both had some players nursing minor injuries at the end of the regular season – the week off allowed them to focus on the playoffs ahead.

“We’re as healthy as we’ve been all season and we got our legs back,’’ said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal. “I give our kids credit. We had a great week last week. I was worried about that bye week, but we went out and they were very businesslike. We had three great practices, worked on some stuff that we felt we needed to clean up.’’

“It helped us have some down time, to think about how much do we want this,’’ said defensive tackle Jordan Berube. “How much do we want to win this game?’’

They answered with a sterling defensive effort. The Spartans had scored 82 points in their previous two games. But the Trojans took away Sanford’s power running game. Sanford had 114 rushing yards, but 81 came on the final drive of the game.

Bonny Eagle, meanwhile, shut out a team that averaged 33.8 points in the regular season and scored 45 in the first round of the playoffs. In fact, Scarborough hadn’t scored fewer than 41 points in any of its previous five games.

But the week off allowed Bonny Eagle to focus on its defense, which gave up over 300 yards to Scarborough in the regular season.

“We took (the bye week) to our advantage and worked on everything we needed to do,’’ said Bonny Eagle senior Jon Woods. “I mean, that’s our defense. We worked hard on D, that’s all we worked on all week. We knew we could run the ball, it was all about our defense.’’

Defensive back Joey Bissonnette, who broke up a couple deep passes and intercepted one, said, “I’ve been playing high school football for four years and those were the best four defensive practices we’ve ever had.’’

Coach Kevin Cooper gave all the credit to his players for maintaining their focus during the week off.

“It got us a few days off, a chance to re-energize,’’ he said. “But I think the best thing was our kids, we just had great practices last week. It’s really hard for high school kids to be able to focus when there’s no opponent coming on Friday. But our kids did a great job, and we got better at a few things that we were able to use tonight.’’

FOR THE TEAMS that are now done for the season, the disappointment of losing can be tempered by the knowledge that they had successful seasons.

“This doesn’t take away from the fact that we’re pretty proud of our kids,’’ said Sanford Coach Mike Fallon. “They’ve been doing a lot of things this year and showed a lot of resilience. We’d like to be playing again next week. But at this time of the season, only one team goes home happy.’’

Scarborough Coach Lance Johnson said his program is getting closer each year.

“We’ve got a really good group of kids, they work hard and do everything we ask them to do,’’ he said. “They’re competing physically better every year I’ve been at Scarborough. So I think we’re coming, and (the seniors) set a good example for our underclassmen.’’

(Continued on page 2)

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